Culinary scene in Charlotte exploding, especially in South End - WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

Culinary scene in Charlotte exploding, especially in South End

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Restaurant scene. It was not long ago that you probably wouldn't put those two words together when you thought of Charlotte. But lately that's exactly what it's becoming known for..

Non-chain restaurants have been popping up everywhere and drawing some crowds.

Take a drive through Elizabeth, Plaza Midwood or South End and the neighborhoods all have one thing in common: a growing culinary scene.

It's why Patrick Whelan and his two partners chose to open their newest restaurant in South End. Nan and Byron's had it grand opening Thursday night.

"It's like a no-brainer," he said. "South End is the fastest growing area in Charlotte right now."

Whelan says their goal when it comes to dining out is different from the big, well-known chains.

"You're not going somewhere where its just functional," he pointed out. "Where they're just expecting you to come in and eat and leave. It's an experience."

That goal of making dining out an experience began at their first restaurant, 5 Church in Uptown.

It became a hot spot during the DNC last fall -- especially for celebrities, including Jessica Alba, Zach Braff and Don Cheadle among several others.  

"Frankly -- the reason why we're opening Nan and Byron's right now, is because of the success we had from the DNC," said Whelan.

For more established restaurants like the Custom Shop in Elizabeth, Chip Townsend who manages its wine bar says there room for everybody at the table.

"This is exactly what we hoped for, I think," he said. "That we have a burgeoning culinary scene which is a fantastic thing for the city."

A scene Townsend believes is key to taking Charlotte to the next level.

"You go to any other major city in the US and the culinary scene is absolutely there," he said. "And without, Charlotte will not be the world class city that we'd like to be."

Back to Nan and Byron's who's looking forward to its new neighbor. Asheville based restaurant Tupelo opens nearby next month.

"I'm never going to leave this street," said Whelan. "I'm just going to be eating up and down the street -- non stop. Can't wait!"

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